# Let’s do the Numbers

Social Security Reform – For 2003 there was about 533.5 billion dollars collected from 156 million workers (plus employers).

That comes down to \$3420 per worker/employer or \$1710 per worker per year. (Employer matches an equal amount per worker to SSA)

The SSA Reformers are suggesting that the worker gets to put some of the SSA money into private accounts that the workers would control on their own, a la an IRA. How much should they gamble with? Let the Employers match stay with the SSA. That leaves up to \$1710 to invest. No one is really suggesting that the entire \$1710 go to Wall Street; what about a half, a third, a quarter?

Numbers:
57% = \$979
50% = \$855
33% = \$564
30% = \$513
25% = \$427
20% = \$342
10% = \$171

So, in 2003, SSA took in \$533,500M and spent \$470,728M, leaving a surplus of \$62,772M. Let’s use this number as an investment target.

That would mean that the average worker could move \$402 to an investment account and leave the SSA with enough to balance the income and disbursements. That’s about 25% of the SSA contribution.

< Alternate Reality >
So, in 2003, including interest on investments, SSA took in \$631,866M and spent \$479,086M, leaving a surplus of \$152,780M. Let’s use this number as an investment target.

That would mean that the average worker could move \$979 to an investment account and leave the SSA with enough to balance the income and disbursements. That’s about 57% of the SSA contribution.

< / Alternate Reality > (they really don’t like you putting in faux tags)

The percentage to invest will be a topic of much discussion.

Unless there is some sort of guarantee that the SSA accounts will have a strict limit on the fees charged, a worker can come out of this experiment with nothing, not even the original \$20K-30K contributed over the course of a lifetime. Of course, those that have maxed out on the SSA contributions at \$5450 per worker per year will have a better chance to get something out of it all. (Have you noticed that the max contribution is 3 times the average contribution? I wonder if that means anything.)

Most workers will start out small and gradually work their way up to the contribution cap. Over 45 years, a worker will average about 45*1710= \$76,950, or \$153,894 with employer match, in contributions to the SSA Trust Funds. (Using the 2003 dollars noted above.)

So, if they direct 50% of their SSA contribution to a private account, do they then receive 50% benefits when they retire? Actually, it should be 75% since the employer is contributing the full amount to the SSA account. (50% of 50% is 25%)

# COSine Was a Success

This past weekend we had our second annual SF convention in Colorado Springs, COSine 2005. We had Joe Haldeman as GOH (Guest of Honor) and it was a very good weekend.

Our attendance ran slightly above our anticipated 100 fans . The Consuite was well attended and much discussion ensued. The panels were well attended and the panelists interacted well together. I had a chance to interview Joe for the GOH Interview and it went off very well. We had favorable coverage from the local newspaper and a couple of the local TV stations. (Made the 5:30 News Saturday night.) The Art Show went well and there were a reasonable number of artists on display for the size of the convention. I think they did well in the silent auction, also.

If there were any negatives, one was that the dealers didn’t do as well as they hoped. I don’t know what can be done there. We had 5 dealers selling a variety of books, jewelry, and costumes. The fans didn’t seem to be buying this time around. The other negative was the weather. It was sunny and in the 70’s. Why would anyone want to stay in on a day like that.?

# Warning!

Do not watch The Criterion Collection: Night and Fog right before going to bed.

I do recommend that everyone get a DVD and watch it at least every 10 years. Just to remind us…

# Bags rock

Every Rock Band needs at least one set of Bagpipes.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I removed Weather Bug, since it appeared to be malware, and replaced it with Weather Pulse. What was really neat about WP was that it allowed me to select the weather map of my choice and save it as a desktop background. I selected the Pueblo Doppler Radar picture and it would be updated during the day so I could see the storms moving through the area.

Unfortunately, I started some PC frezing symptoms that I associated with Weather Pulse. The problem seemed to start when it notified me at boot-up that an upgrade was available and I asked it to upgrade the app. then the PC would freeze up and I would be forced to power off the PC to proceed. Not Helpful. So, I reluctantly went to Uninstall WP and it announced a successful uninstall. But it still tried to start up, various errors messages shoed up saying modules weren’t available and the weather map stayed in the background. But no temperatures would show up in the tool bar, just n/a. Turns out the the directory was still in Program files with the .exe file. So I deleted the directory and will see what happens now.

While browsing the program files, I noticed that the Yahoo Messenger and AOL onDesktop directories were still there. I had deleted the software a month or two ago. So I deleted those directories, too. amazing how much the uninstall process doesn’t uninstall.

But my current Weather tracking tool is a Firefox extension – Forecastfox. I have it set to report on the Monument weather from weather station USCO0276. It appears at the bottom of my Firefox screen, it’s sunny and 27 degrees (F) at the moment.

# Stand up to the Man

U.S. Tells D.C. to Pay Inaugural Expenses (washingtonpost.com)

As the WP reports, DC is supposed to pay for the Bush Inaugural Security. Don’t do it. Only spend the money that Congress has allocated for it. (About a third of the total)

On top of it all, it’s a federal holiday in the District so the District loses \$66M. (I assume that’s all the city vendors combined and not the tax revenue. )

Maybe not. \$66M per business day, 260 business days a year. \$16.5 B a year. What is DC’s annual tax revenue? Runs about \$3.5 B a year I guess that is the expected general business loss for a federal day off.

# COSine science fiction convention

COSine science fiction convention

I’m chairing a convention shortly. The tag line is:

COSine – A Science Fiction Convention
Coming to a Colorado Springs Near You!

And January in COS is usually quite pleasant.

# A dissertation on the TABOR Amendment

This is a semi-scholarly document, in that my first impression of the author is that he is an anti-taxist. But it does seem to cover a lot of the details of what TABOR has imposed on the Colorado legislature’s spending authority.

I think that Colorado voters need to be more upfront about their state and start publicizing things like “Welcome to Colorado, where the education of your children is YOUR business, not ours. ” (All publicity to be done without spending any tax money.)

# Some Perspective 5 Years After Y2K

Some Perspective 5 Years After Y2K An interesting article to remind us of the remote past, lo these five years ago. Check out the links in the article to remember what was being said back then.

I never did get that power generator I was coveting….